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Negro Leagues
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Negro Leagues Legacy

NLBM honors top Major Leaguers
Giants left fielder Barry Bonds and Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez were named the recipients of the Josh Gibson Legacy Award from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
By Rob Scichili and Mark Feinsand
MLB.com


Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez won the Josh Gibson Award for hitting 52 home runs last season.
San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds and Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez were named the recipients of the Josh Gibson Legacy Award from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in Kansas City.

Roger Clemens, who captured his sixth Cy Young Award last season, was named the recipient of the Leroy "Satchel" Paige Award, and first baseman Jason Giambi, who signed with the New York Yankees in December, was named the recipient of the Oscar Charleston Award.

Bonds led the National League with 73 home runs, setting the single-season mark, while A-Rod paced the AL with 52. The Josh Gibson Legacy Award is given annually to the league leaders in home runs. Gibson was considered by many to be the "black Babe Ruth," though some argue that Ruth was the "white Josh Gibson." In 1936, Gibson hit 84 home runs in a season and is still believed to be the only man to hit a ball completely out of Yankee Stadium.

Clemens, who went 20-3 with a 3.51 ERA, led the American League in wins and finished the season with 213 strikeouts.

The Satchel Paige Award is given to baseball's "Pitchers of the Year." Paige is regarded as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game. He became the Majors' oldest rookie when, in 1948, at a reported age of 42 (he was probably closer to 52), he joined the Cleveland Indians. That season, he registered a 6-1 record with a 2.48 ERA in helping the Indians win the World Series.

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Branch Rickey had several reasons for signing Jackie Robinson to a pro contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Historian Steve Goldman has the details. More>>

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Barnstorming was common place in the Negro Leagues. More>


Giambi finished the 2001 season batting .342 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs, while leading the Oakland A's to the AL Wild Card spot.

The Oscar Charleston Award is given annually to the National and American Leagues' "Most Valuable Players." Charleston is widely regarded by his peers as having been the greatest baseball player ever. According to Negro League great Buck O'Neil, the player who comes closest to matching Charleston's ability would have been Willie Mays.

Colorado Rockies outfielders Larry Walker and Juan Pierre were also honored. Walker earned the Walter "Buck" Leonard Award for leading the National League in batting with a .350 average, while Pierre sped his way to the James "Cool Papa" Bell Award by tying Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins as the NL's 2001 stolen base leader with 46.

The "Cool Papa" Bell Award is given annually to the National and American League "Stolen Base Leaders." Bell is believed to have been the fastest man to ever play baseball. He was clocked circling the bases in an amazing 11.4 seconds. He once stole 175 bases in just under 200 games and twice scored from first base on a bunt in exhibition games against Major League All-Stars.

The Buck Leonard Award is given annually to the National and American League batting champions. Leonard, who was often referred to as the "black Lou Gehrig," was an outstanding hitter. In 1947, at age 40, he hit .410 for an entire season with the great Homestead Grays.

The Legacy Awards were established by the NLBM to honor Major League Baseball's best with awards given in the name and spirit of Negro League legends.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is the world's only museum dedicated to preserving and illuminating the rich history of black baseball. It's a privately funded, not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1990. The NLBM operates one block from the Paseo YMCA where the Negro National League was founded by Andrew "Rube" Foster in 1920.

Rob Scichili and Mark Feinsand are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.